COSI Blog

Science in the News

14
August
2012

Twas the Night Before Mars-mas

An ode to the Mars Curiosity written by our very own Emily Dorrian who is an Associate Faculty Leader for Operations:

Twas the night before Mars-mas, when all through Gale Crater,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a gator;
Mount Sharp was piled in the center with care,
In hopes Curiosity soon would be there;

27
July
2012

Alien Invader!

Imagine yourself on the surface of Mars. The temperature is a balmy zero degrees Fahrenheit. The pink, nearly cloudless Martian sky surrounds a tiny but blindingly bright Sun, shining its feeble light on the frigid surface. In other words, it’s a beautiful day on the Red Planet.

Suddenly the sky opens up in a fiery and terrifying display. What can only be described as a creature from another world begins a rapid descent to the Martian surface. In the space of seven minutes, what was a speck of fire in the sky becomes an enormous robotic vehicle firmly planted on the surface of Mars. It promises quite a show.

First a parachute catches as much of the thin Martian air as it can, slowing the body of the craft down from a blistering 900 mph to a still-deadly 180 mph.

05
July
2012

Swimming in the Higgs Ocean

Scientists at CERN have announced that it's quite likely they've finally cornered the primary quarry of their latest and biggest machine, the Large Hadron Collider. I'd like to call it the Higgs, but others will insist on calling it "The God Particle."

If you remember nothing else from this article, I'd like you to remember this: please don't call it The God Particle. According to Rutgers University physics professor Matt Strassler, who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, the origin of the nickname is about as non-religious and non-scientific as one could imagine: it was invented as advertising... I have never heard or seen a physicist refer to the Higgs particle in this way in the context of a scientific paper, a talk at a conference, or even an informal scientific discussion. There’s nothing in the mathematical equations, in the interpretation of the physics, in any philosophy of which I am aware, or in any religious text or tradition with which I am familiar that connects the Higgs particle or the Higgs field with any notion of religion or divinity. The nickname is pure invention."

Swimming in the Higgs Ocean
01
June
2012

Venus Crossing!

In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love. From Earth, the lovely planet Venus is the brightest object we can see besides the Sun and the Moon. We know today that Venus itself is not so lovely a place, with clouds of sulfuric acid and a surface hot enough to melt lead. But because Venus is between the Earth and the Sun, every so often, something very special happens. Venus passes directly between our planet and our star. We call this passage a transit.

Imagine yourself as a space alien, looking down on our solar system. In the center is the Sun, dwarfing all else. A few million miles* from the Sun you see some orbiting rocks. Two of them, almost the same size, are the second and third rocks from the Sun. The orbits of these planets are almost (but not quite) circles, and they’re almost (but not quite) in the same plane. If the planets were exactly in the same plane, it would be as if they were marbles rolling about on a flat plate as they circle the Sun. If that were the case, then every time Venus overtook the Earth in its orbit (something that happens at least once every year) people on Earth would see Venus pass in front of the Sun. But because our orbits are tilted, this perfect passage (or transit) occurs only when conditions are just right.

Venus Crossing!
25
May
2012

Incredible Commitment, Incredible Stories

Many companies and individual donors provide support for youth programs at science centers around the country. I have worked with many over my years at different museums and they all bring sincerity and hope at some level to their support.

But I have never had the experience of working with a company and individuals quite so dedicated, visionary, and personally engaged and committed as those around the Miracle-Gro Capital Scholars program. Today’s feature story in The Columbus Dispatch shares the special story of how the Hagedorn family and the Scotts Miracle-Gro company (where Jim Hagedorn is CEO) have made an incredible commitment to help youth make a fundamental change in their lives in partnership with COSI and others.

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